My Father-in-law was born in Germany in Berlin. After his Father and Mother got divorced his Father moved to South-West Africa (Namibia). He mostly grew up in a private school hostel in Germany at a place called Ammerzee until the outbreak of the war.
During the war he deliberately jumped from a roof to break something (and broke his leg, which he had trouble with, forever) to escape Hitler’s army! He then went to his Father in Namibia and later to South Africa where he met my Mother-in-law.
My Mother-in-law went to London to specialize as an orthopedic Nurse and my Father-in-law went to London to gain more experience as a Gynecologist. Here they have met again and fell in love and they got married in London, but they soon returned to South Africa.
Although my Mother-in-law was a “boeremeisie” from the Free-state, she often made traditional German cuisine. On Friday nights she would serve Pumpernickel, rye bread and home made bread with a variety of cheeses and sausages such as Bratwurst, Blutwurst, Leberwurst or cervalat. On Saturday afternoons we always ate Bockwurst, Kartoffelen salad, sauerkraut and Apfel sauce. At coffee time my MIL would mostly serve Apfel Strudl. Over Christmas time she would bake stolen, lebkuchen and other traditional German biscuits. One thing she never made was Bienenstich cake, although my FIL talked about it often.
According to Wikepedia Bienenstich or “Bee sting cake” is a: German dessert made of a sweet bread (with or without yeast) with a baked-on topping of honeyed almonds and filled with a vanilla custard. The cake may have earned its name from its honey topping: according to one legend, a bee was attracted to it, and the baker who invented the cake was stung. Another source cites a legend of German bakers from the 15th century who lobbed beehives at raiders from a neighboring village, successfully repelling them, and celebrated later by baking a version of this cake named after their efforts.
My MIL has many German recipe books and I copied a recipe for Bienenstich cake and wrote it down years ago. I always wanted to make the cake but did not like the idea of cake containing yeast. Recently I have started looking again for a Bienenstich cake recipe and found this recipe on cdkitchen! I decided to use this as the base of my cake, but still use the recipe from my MIL’s cookbook for the topping and filling.
For the base cake mixture:
425ml cake flour
45ml baking powder
120ml real butter
5ml vanilla essence
90ml full cream milk
For the topping:
100g blanched flaked almonds
60ml brown sugar
60ml liquid honey
5ml finely grated lemon rind
10ml cake flour
For the custard filling mixture:
45ml castor sugar
2 eggs, divided
2.5ml almond essence
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and grease an 18cm spring form pan.
Cream the butter until fluffy, add the sugar gradually, beating until light.
Add the egg, one at a times, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla essence and mix.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together and add a ⅓ at a time, alternating with the milk to the egg mixture. Stir only enough to blend thoroughly. Pour into the pan.
For the topping:
Heat the almonds, sugar, honey, butter, cream and rind together stirring all the time until all the sugar dissolves.
Dust the cake flour on top of the cake mixture and pour the almond topping over.
Bake for 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool down completely before filling it.
For the custard filling:
Heat the milk to scalding. Mix the castor sugar, cornflour and egg yolks together in the top of a double boiler. Slowly pour the hot milk over the cornflour mixture, whisking continuously.
Place over boiling water and cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the almond essence and mix.
Whisk the egg whites, adding the salt, until stiff and fold into the custard. Cool and chill in the refrigerator.
Once the cake has cooled, slice in half horizontally to make two layers.
Place the bottom layer on a cake plate and spread the custard over the base.
Top with the almond-encrusted top layer.
Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve.
I have baked loads of cakes in the past such as Lemon Meringue (one of my favourites), Carrot cake, Baked Cheesecake, Fridge Cheesecakes, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate mousse cake, Vanilla Cakes, Appletart, Fruity appletart, Brownies, etc, but this cake is really something special and very delicious. It is a bit difficult to make but definitely worth it!